Katjavivi rapped over knuckles for LPM disciplinary delay
22 July 2021 | Justice
Judges hearing the appeal in the matter between National Assembly Speaker Peter Katjavivi and suspended Landless People’s Movement (LPM) leaders Bernadus Swartbooi and Henny Siebeb have expressed concern about the delay in the finalisation of the disciplinary proceedings.
During yesterday’s five-hour court proceedings, chief justice Peter Shivute and Judge Dave Smuts questioned the Speaker’s legal team on why the internal disciplinary matter has yet to be concluded more than three months later.
Shivute said delaying the matter deprives those who voted for the two lawmakers from representation in Parliament.
“The time taken to solve this worries me, because the public is entitled to be represented by those they voted for,” he told Katjavivi’s lawyer Sisa Namandje.
Smuts expressed similar sentiments, saying “the members were suspended three months ago, where is the committee?”
Namandje responded: “That should not be the concern”.
“It is clear from the decision of the rules committee and the speed at which the Speaker handled this matter that the Speaker has recognised the urgency to swiftly deal with this matter,” he said.
Back and forth
Yesterday’s marathon court session saw the National Assembly fighting to fend-off a Supreme Court appeal into its decision to withdraw the LPM lawmakers. The duo claim Katjavivi unlawfully used his powers to axe them.
Namandje is fighting to ensure that the High Court judgement which dismissed LPM’s case - which challenged Katjavivi’s decision to withdraw them from the National Assembly - is upheld by the country’s apex court.
On the opposite bench, Patrick Kauta wants the Supreme Court to review the High Court judgment and set it aside.
Kauta’s arguments were centered around the legality of Katjavivi’s decision, further arguing that the Speaker does not have the right to withdraw lawmakers indefinitely.
Kauta argued that Katjavivi’s intentions from the start were to ‘punish’ Swartbooi and Seibeb instead of following the set protocols.
“The Speaker was supposed to compile a report in which he sets out his version and then submit it to the relevant structures, instead of outrightly deciding to withdraw the members,” he said.
While LPM claim that any investigation into their conduct can only be done by the National Assembly and not the courts, Namandje during his oral submissions underscored that “Parliament must at all times have the power to control its internal affairs”.
He also highlighted that “the security risk posed by the two members cannot be left unchallenged”.
Namandje charged that it was premature for Swartbooi and Seibeb to approach the courts because “the matter was being dealt with internally”.
Judgement in the matter has been reserved for a later date.